Hiding a Serious Illness from Your Child?

October 27th, 2008

Living with cancer, HIV/AIDS, or another serious illness is difficult.  Living with an illness and having a child in the home is beyond words.  We as parents want to shield our children from pain, harm, and fear.  Medical emergencies makes this hard to do.

You may try to keep life “as usual” for your child, never mentioning your health concern.  However, no matter what her or his age, children pick up on things.  Your mood, your fears, the hushed conversations they overhear.  All of this, not to mention the changes in routine, the new people in the house, and so many other new adjustments, can make a child feel unsteady and act out.

In my experience, children as young as 2 years old can understand something about health, sickness, and healing.  When I had cancer, I found that my 3-year-old was much calmer when we finally told her what was going on.  We took her to meet my doctor and nurses.  We found children’s books to read to her.  She wanted to hear those stories over and over again until I was better. 

There are many ways to help your children deal with a parent’s or another loved one’s illness.  An excellent resource is the book “How to Help Children Through a Parent’s Serious Illness” by Kathleen McCue, M.A., C.C.L.S.”  The author does a good job of covering the needs of children of all ages.  Rest assured, your child CAN know what is going on and still feel reassured, loved, and safe.

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